October 2, 2014 — Bloomberg reports that trial attorneys have accused Takeda Pharmaceuticals of concealing information about bladder cancer to protect billions of dollars in profits on Actos (pioglitazone), a once-popular diabetes drug.
In closing arguments, lawyers said Takeda knew about the risk of bladder cancer in 2004, but waited seven years to issue a warning. By that time, sales of Actos accounted for 27% of the company’s revenue, or about $4.5 billion per year in March 2011. In total, Actos generated $16 billion since 1999.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Frances Wisniewski, a 79 year-old retired accountant. Takeda argued that the plaintiff’s bladder cancer was caused by smoking cigarettes and other risk-factors.
Attorneys for Wisniewski urged a jury in Philadelphia to find that Takeda downplayed evidence of bladder cancer and failed to provide adequate warnings to his client’s physician about the risk.
Takeda is also accused of intentionally destroying crucial documents on 46 former and current employees, including top executives in Japan and sales representatives in the United States. In January, U.S. District Judge Rebecca Doherty ruled that Takeda acted in “bad faith” when they destroyed documents as late as 2011, despite court orders to preserve documents.
In April 2014, a federal judge refused to overturn a record-setting $9 billion punitive damage award after a federal court jury found that they hid the cancer risks of Actos. The jury also awarded $1.5 million in compensation to the plaintiff, Terrence Allen, who developed bladder cancer.
About 3,500 Actos lawsuits have been consolidated in federal court in Louisiana. Another 4,500 cases are pending in state courts in Illinois, West Virginia, California, and Pennsylvania.
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